Review by Jack Foley
DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Filmmakers commentary; Featurettes; games; video jukebox; trailers.
THE biggest question surrounding Aardman Features’ first fully computer-animated movie was whether the company could maintain the high standards set by the more simplistic likes of Creature Comforts and Wallace & Gromit.
The answer, fortunately, is yes. Flushed Away may lack the out-and-out classic status of Curse Of The Were-Rabbit but it’s easily one of the best animated family adventures to have emerged (or submerged!) this year.
It looks terrific, retains a very English sensibility and has enough gags to keep audiences of all ages chuckling.
The film follows the fortunes of pampered pet mouse Roddy (voiced by Hugh Jackman), whose cosy Kensington existence is shattered by the arrival of an overweight sewer rat named Sid (Shane Richie).
Roddy is promptly flushed down the loo and, once underground, discovers a vast metropolis where he meets Rita (Kate Winslet) a street-wise rat on a mission of her own.
He subsequently enlists her help to get home but only if they can both escape the clutches of a villainous Toad (Sir Ian McKellen) who despises all rodents and has plans for their extermination.
Co-directed by Aardman veterans David Bowers and Sam Fell with the assistance of DreamWorks SKG (the creators of Shrek) Flushed Away is an endlessly inventive “love letter to London” that retains the Aardman charm while making the most of its computer generated playing field.
So while it may lack the distinct look of the company’s previous clay stop-motion work, it compensates by packing the screen with all manner of quirky characters and exciting situations.
Many of the set pieces take their cue from the 007 movies and The Da Vinci Code (especially in its choice of villains) but they’re all relayed in original fashion and never feel like unflattering imitations.
If there’s a criticism, it’s that the central characters of Roddy and Rita lack the all-round eccentricity of previous Aardman creations and aren’t quite as funny as they could have been.
But the movie makes up for this with a dazzling array of supporting players, such as McKellen’s deliciously OTT pantomime villain Toad, his dim-witted henchmen (voiced brilliantly by Bill Nighy and Andy Serkis) and, most notably, a cast of singing slugs who frequently drift by to provide comic highlights.
There’s some wonderfully witty asides at the expense of Anglo-French relations, some choice toilet gags that are actually funny and even a couple of well-placed blink and you’ll miss them sight gags that reference Wallace & Gromit.
The attention to detail, meanwhile, is as faultless as ever, ensuring that it’ll take at least two or three viewings to fully appreciate everything that’s been created.
Clocking in at a wonderfully trim 85 minutes, Flushed Away is yet another triumph for Aardman that deserves to become a big success.
Running time: 85mins